As my departure date draws nearer, one concept from the workshops has begun to resonate deeply with me: tricksters. When it was first introduced, I thought that there was absolutely no way that I would fall victim to these “faux amis” (sorry, I had to slip in some French here). Paris has been a place that I have wanted to explore since sixth grade, when I began my French studies. How, then, could I allow anything to stand in my way of that? As I spend more time with my parents, however, I realize that even the most innocent relationships can become tricksters. As an only child, I am very close with both parents, but especially my mother. At Quinnipiac, I text her the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed. Being six hours ahead, however, will make this an impossible feat. In order to ensure that my travels are unhindered by happenings at home, my mother and I must arrange a time to talk at least once a week.
Another concept that ties in with tricksters is the liminal phase. Personally, I believe I have been stuck within the liminal phase for years. Choosing to take French over Spanish in middle school commenced this period. I left my monolingual status to transform into bilingualism, which will be complete upon my return. For as long as I can remember, French has been a part of my identity, yet I never really knew how it fit in. I am not French, nor is any of my family, yet I have felt a connection to the culture and language for as long as I can remember. Slimbach discusses the feelings remaining after field research “[that leave one] with an appetite for the deep connections and intercultural insights that are possible through the global-learning experience” (130). My field research has been studying French culture, language and customs in a classroom all these years, but my hunger for experience will soon be satiated in exactly nineteen days.
In the Introduction, Slimbach describes many concepts that were discussed in the workshops. First, he describes the entrance into the liminal phase as, “a weakening attachment to family and place and gradually [branching] out…to create and control their own lives” (2). As I ease into Parisian life, I will feel a temporary weakened connection to Boston as I attempt to create my own life and identity, independent from those of my parents, or their expectations for me, perhaps. Both have lived in my hometown of Dedham, Massachusetts for over eighty years combined. While I feel a sense of safety and security here, the world has much more to offer than a small suburb just south of Boston.
One particular statement regarding the ultimate stage of reincorporation is quite important. Slimbach says, “Implicit in this global movement, however, is an issue that strikes to the heart of global learning: how best to balance our educational and self-improvement needs with the developmental needs of destination communities” (9). Although my reasons for studying abroad, particularly in France, is to become more cultured and solidify language skills, I do intend to interact with local natives. After all, what is the point of a trip if you do not have friendly exchanges that may transform into wonderful stories to tell your home community upon your return? Family and friends want to hear all about your travels and the experiences you encountered while there.
Finally, to assist me in my travels, I have chosen a travelogue titled, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious–and Perplexing–City. After perusing the travelogue section of Amazon, I came across theenticing cover, which depicts a cup of “café” and a croissant. Nothing says French culture like these staple items. This travelogue follows American pastry chef and cookbook author, David Lebovitz, as he moves to Paris, France. An American in Paris, not unlike my situation, he learns the proper social etiquette and customs necessary to assimilate to Parisian life. I thought this would perfectly guide me on how to compose myself socially, yet also offer insight into France’s renowned cuisine.